Race 13.1 Wilmington was the kick-off race to the organization’s 2016 race season, and we were lucky enough to be a part of it. As usual, Race 13.1 provided runners with a big-race experience in a more manageable, medium sized package.
Packet pickup was held on Friday from 5 pm to 7 pm and Saturday from 12 pm to 4 pm at Omega Sports in Wilmington, NC. For anyone unable to make it to Omega Sports on Friday or Saturday, packets could be picked up on race morning near the start.
There are numerous options for accommodations in Wilmington, with the closest option being the race’s host hotel, The Residence Inn. Located a mere 1 mile from Lumina Station, this hotel has the potential for walkability to the race start.The Fairfield Inn on Eastwood Road was also fairly close, located about 3 miles from the starting line. Unable to score one of the deals offered by the Residence Inn, we went for the best deal we could find in Wilmington. That put us in a Courtyard by Marriott hotel that was just under 10 minutes to the start. In this same general area runners could stay at a Holiday Inn Express or a Comfort Inn.
Places to Eat
Wilmington has a slew of dining options; both local and chain restaurants abound. Anyone who opts to stay at the aforementioned Courtyard, Holiday Inn Express, or Comfort Inn will find themselves within a stone's throw of the carb loading haven, Carraba’s, or its competition, Olive Garden. Also within that same stone’s throw was an Outback Steakhouse and a Cracker Barrel.
For those who prefer to eat local while traveling, our best advice is to head downtown. We attempted to eat at the well recommended Dixie Grill for brunch after the race, but apparently that’s where everyone else heads for a meal on Sundays. The large crowd waiting for a table sent us elsewhere downtown. Our bland meal at another local restaurant left us wishing we’d tackled the wait.
The course began and ended at Lumina Station, a Wilmington shopping center. As a result, parking was plentiful, and runners needed only to follow the music to find the giant inflatable Race 13.1 arch and the rest of the runners village. The port-o-lets were plentiful and the cleanest and most fragrant (in the best way possible) we’ve ever had the pleasure of using. Any runner needing to pick up a race packet that morning could easily grab it, go back to the car, and return to the runner village in plenty of time to use the restroom.
The half marathon began at 7 am and took runners on a flat, fast course that consisted of a combination of paved multi-use paths and residential roads. Aid stations were located approximately every 2 miles, and each was well stocked with Gatorade and water. The clear cups housing the drinks made it easy for runners to distinguish between the two hydration options. Runners should be prepared for a well marked course with a couple of turn-arounds at traffic cones. Thanks to the upgraded giant arrows and vocal volunteers, there was little chance of anyone taking a wrong turn on this course.
The race ended where it began: under the magnificent, inflatable Race 13.1 arch at Lumina Station. This shopping center is picturesque in its own right, but even so, Race 13.1 organizers found the prettiest spot for its start, finish, and runners village. After crossing the finish line and earning their finisher medals, runners walked under a glorious live oak on their way to the post-race party.
Tired runners didn’t need to walk far to get to the freebies at the finish line. All could rehydrate and refuel on bananas, oranges, granola bars, pizza, chocolate milk, and water. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina had a fun little setup where they snapped photos of runners and awarded them with free photos, sunglasses and water bottles. Additionally, one local group was offering free massages, while another was offering $10 medal engraving.
A quick awards ceremony was held for overall and age group winners. Each winning runner received an additional medal and gift card to Omega Sports.
Apparently runners are starting to catch on to one of the neatest things about Race 13.1 events: the big giveaway. These giveaways offer a big prize to one random winner; the catch is, a runner must be present to win. Using a random number generator, race organizers called out random bib numbers until they got to the winner of this race’s prize: a $1,000 certificate of deposit from Yadkin Bank. This gives runners of all ability levels a chance to win a major prize, and it’s an exciting way to end a race.
There are a number of Race 13.1 groupies out there; people who travel the Carolinas to run in these well organized, generous events. If you are a Race 13.1 groupie, this is another solid event and a must-run.
Tips for Running a Successful Race 13.1 Wilmington
- There’s not much you can do to screw this race up. The course is flat, fast, and well marked.
- Consider wearing sunglasses or a visor. The race’s start time combined with the direction runners will be traveling makes for the sun in one’s eyes at a few points along the course.
For more information visit https://race131.com/races/race-13-1-wilmington-nc/details?tabs=on